Researchers devote a lot of time to diagnosing dementia as quickly as possible as the earlier the condition is diagnosed the more effectively it can be treated. Over 20 years doctors from Oxford have been studying a group of 241 healthy elderly volunteers giving them regular tests designed to measure their thinking or cognitive powers. Looking back over the tests the doctors found that those participants who went on to develop mild cognitive impairment - often seen as a precursor of Alzheimer's - stumbled on tasks involving language expression, learning and recall. They had greater difficulty remembering the names of common objects or animals and explaining the meanings of words and those who were older and scored lower on the language and memory tests tended to deteriorate more quickly.
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